How do you identify?


Basically, this sums it up.

Basically, this sums it up.

How do you introduce yourself?  Hi, I’m Anne-Marie.

Then what…do you go in to what you do for a paycheck?  What you do for fun?  Where you’re from?  It could go something like this….I am a paramedic at the local childrens’ hospital.  My wife and I live near the water with our four (yes, I said four) dogs and one cat.  I have a younger sister that is mother to my two awesome nephews.  My parents are still happily married going on 40 years!  I teach a Sunday Funday multi-level yoga class on Sundays at my wife’s yoga studio, The Space Above.  Occasionally I can be found at the local strongman/powerlifting gym, Brute Strength coaching a CrossFit class or working out with my wife and friends. I graduated with my bachelors in Philosophy and Film (photography) from Hollins University almost 15 years ago (good lord, really?), but love school so much that I went back to school for post baccalaureate studies because I thought I was going to medical school and decided to become a paramedic instead.  I’ve had various jobs – outdoor education, server at a few restaurants, even a stint as a valet, a lifeguard, a dog trainer, retail sales, etc.  When I was in junior high I met the girl who would become my first girlfriend.  I played a ton of sports and was a collegiate equestrian (on the national team, thank you very much), and found the barbell in 2009 while going through a huge life transition and haven’t turned back (lifting weights is awesome)…………………………………

It looks like a resumé, right?  That paragraph could go on for endless words, sentences, thoughts, ideas, but it doesn’t really tell you who I am – it tells you what I’ve done, what I’m doing, what I like, some of my experiences.  Who I am, who you are, is a bit harder to answer, don’t you think?  All of these details give the reader an idea of what I like to do as a person, what I enjoy and how I like to spend my time.  You likely enjoy some of those things too, or know me from some of these experiences and that’s what has drawn you to my blog.

Who are you?  No, really.  Think about it.  Without the things, without the clothing, without the hobbies, without the jobs, without the hashtags…who are you?  Strip down to the barebones of your existence and see if you can discover who you are.  We’re just the same, you and I…and the person next to you, across the street, two states away.  All of these identities that we carry are just a mask making it easier to distinguish me from the person next to me in the coffee shop.

Baby Firefighter!  If you’ve made it this far, then you now know what prompted me to jot this deep thought down.  I’ve identified many different ways in my almost 37 years, and starting December 1st I’ll add the role of Firefighter to the Who am I? resumé.  You know that phrase, the only thing that is constant is change?  This sums up this whole bit of identification, it’s always in flux.  What’s important in that moment is what you’ll share with the people you meet.  Tomorrow that first paragraph above will sound and look entirely different.  Which also means this blog may look completely different as my experience as a firefighter paramedic emerges.  How does this new role look for me?  I don’t know.  There are so many unknown variables that I’m preparing to encounter on this new journey.

Go with the flow, and embrace nakedness.  Ok, so be naked when it’s appropriate, but don’t be afraid to share YOU with the world.  Embrace the change that you experience on a daily basis.  Just because you think you are who you are today, tomorrow, hell even an hour from now, you may believe you’re something entirely different.  Go with it.

Introduce yourself to me…who are you?

Be YOU! (This is the beautiful Tara, one of the teachers at The Space Above.)

Be YOU! (This is the beautiful Tara, one of the teachers at The Space Above.)


Got Naked Feet?

Liftin’ Dirty

Here’s a little something I wrote for the BruteYogi blog.  And if you haven’t signed up for the BruteYogi blog posts…sigh…GET ON IT.

Got Naked Feet?

Got Naked Feet?

Go barefoot!  No, seriously….do it.  Take your shoes off, socks too!  Maybe don’t smell your feet and definitely take the toe jam out first.  This is coming from the Brute Yogi that has some serious foot issues (Anne-Marie, if you haven’t figured it out).  Here’s why barefoot rocks:

  • Foot and Ankle Warm-up.  You have a clear path from your body and its nervous system right to what ever your foot touches.  Without the shoes and socks your feet can feel everything underneath and all of the muscles have the opportunity to work in the way that they were designed to work.  This travels all the way up the chain, the knees and hips will join the party and pretty soon everything will be working in harmony.
  • Proprioception is in its purest form without added distractions.  Shoes and socks can mask underlying structural issues as well as the ability to feel the surrounding environment.
  • You will get stronger.  Your squat, deadlift, presses all will improve in technique alone.  If the technique improves the strength will follow.  The feet are the foundation of any standing movement, strengthen those puppies and you’ll create a trend along your athletic continuum.
  • Posture will improve.  Basically see all of the above.

Here’s the deal -

  • Safety first!  Even with shoes on you wouldn’t want to drop dumbbells, bumpers, iron plates, etc on any part of your body – so be aware of your surrounds and move mindfully.  Likewise, you wouldn’t step on sharp glass or nails with shoes on, so there’s little chance of you doing that without (unless of course you’re in to that).
  • MRSA!  Ok, so it’s a real possibility that the gym floor is gross and thus your feet will also be gross once you’ve walked around barefoot for all of 2 seconds.  If you have open sores or cuts on your feet, FOR THE LOVE don’t put anyone, including yourself, in jeopardy of contracting some kind of nastiness.  Otherwise it should be pretty safe as long as you wash your feet after being in the gym, which you should probably be doing anyway.  Again, coming from the girl who used to get athletes foot from just looking at a bathroom floor, I’ve been nastiness free just from making sure I clean with some good ‘ole fashion soap and water.
  • Take it slow.  Just like the barefoot running craze, you don’t want to go naked for a marathon right out of the gate.  Just do your warm-up, use an empty barbell going through your usual oly routine or squat routine or deadlift routine or whatever it is you do before you hammer out some awesome sweat induced funness in the gym.  Maybe work up to adding some weight to the barbell or doing some light jogging back and forth on the gym floor.  Don’t go and add your 1RM to the barbell and expect to feel amazing afterwards.  There’s potential (not an absolute) that you could injure yourself if you go to heavy, decide to do an entire WOD, go for a 20 minute run or what ever craziness you think up for yourself.  Your feet are likely not used to that type of loading and having a set back is worse than spending a little extra time in the gym preparing the body for work.

Reluctantly I went barefoot in the gym after much pressure from the number 1 Brute Yogi (that’s Lisa of course).  The first day I knew I was converted.  I just owned it, and went full on naked foot for my warm-up and haven’t looked back.  It’s been over a month and I can honestly say that I’ve noticed a difference in my sessions at the gym.  My feet get super dirty but they’re so nice and warm before I start lifting.  I feel like it’s helped increase my over all strength as my joints and muscles feel better as I start adding the weight on the bar and put my shoes back on.  It also seems as though I’m recovering faster as well.  Whether or not this is due 100% to my decision to go naked footed or not, I know I can attribute at least some of this recent gym success to my feet nudity.

Do you still Crossfit?


This has been a question I’ve been asked a lot since since shoulder surgery and since recently moving out of the “box” and into arguably the best powerlifting/strongman gym in the area. Yesterday was no different when one of my gym friends asked me if I was still in to CrossFit. She and I met through a mutual friend and in a CrossFit class I was coaching, so this was definitely a very valid question to be asking. We’ve also been training at the same gym (not known to be a CrossFit gym although it is an affiliate) for about a year together and have also competed in a Stongman comp together. Again, valid question since I seem to be all over the map this past year with how I’ve been training. So, what’s the answer?

Occasionally – if you’re talking about the clock ridden metcons that CrossFit is known for (otherwise, what is CrossFit?).

Shoulder surgery was definitely the catalyst that motivated me to be a better athlete all together. And CrossFit has been the gateway drug I needed to introduce me to Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Strongman amongst other modalities. This past year plus I’ve tried my hand at 12 weeks of a hybrid CrossFit/Strongman style programming done by a friend/fellow coach, 12 weeks of Strongman specific programming that felt a little bit more like powerlifting, an attempt to program for myself along with a local box (my wife and I tested all of the WODS that I wrote for the box for over two months), and now I’m finishing the third week of Travis Mash’s “Getting Jacked” programming. I have training/working out ADD I believe. However, I’ve learned quite a few things through this journey.

  1. Leave your fucking ego at the door.  No, seriously.  DO IT.  If you’re not listening to your body and in turn doing something that you KNOW you really shouldn’t be, then WTF?  Now, if you’re getting paid to do this – and I mean that you are sponsored by Reebok, Rogue, Innov8, Again Faster, Progenex etc etc etc and you DO NOT have a day job because you’re getting paid to do this – then by all means, bring that ego to the bar because you gotta make those dolla billz.  Yet, I digress…we’re all adults here, and if 25 reps of something sounds asinine or an extra 10lbs on the bar makes your form go to shit or 30 more seconds of anything is going to make you puke like you were in college again (which you may still be anyway) then grow up, let the drama go, and say “oh, right, I can say no and still know that I just had a great workout despite xyz”.  Now, if you’re a sandbagger and you need your ass kicked responsibly, then shut up and do one more rep…otherwise, grab some water and be ok with the fact that you know your body better than anyone else and it’s ok to do your own workout as long as you’re safe and not harming anyone else.
  2. Find something that you really enjoy and what you’re good at (they will likely be similar).  I have found that I really like Olympic Lifting, I also happen to really like Strongman implements, and I really like gymnastic movements (like pistols, anything on the rings or pull-up bar, jumping, etc).  So, what does that all mean really?  I find ways to put those things in to my programming because that keeps me interested and in the gym.
  3. Figure out what you don’t like, or what you probably shouldn’t do.  I hate pushups, they are a big challenge to me, I curse them, to me they are stupid (really they aren’t, it’s a good bodyweight movement).  So, to that extent I don’t do a ton of them, although I do find ways to work that range of motion and strength because I realize that I can’t avoid it all together if I want to continue to train the way I do.  Powerlifting is boring to me, it doesn’t hold my interest.  I see the purpose of it, but for me it wouldn’t keep me going back to the gym day after day, so as a modality I skip it.  I won’t really ever compete in powerlifting, so other than a general understanding of the modality and its usage I’m ok without it.  I also know that the shape of my shoulders, structurally, isn’t designed to handle tons of overhead movements (presses, pull-ups, etc) – hence one of the reasons I had surgery, though definitely not the only reason.  That being said, I don’t do a lot of arm intensive movements back to back in my daily training sessions.  Unfortunately, it took shoulder surgery for me to realize this.
  4. CrossFit Group WODs are fun, I love CrossFit and what it’s open my eyes to.  They’re fun to coach.  They’re fun (and sometimes scary) to watch.  It’s fun and motivating to workout with a group of people and to share in a similar experience.  There’s definitely something to be said for the cardiovascular aspect of such WODs, too.  Especially for me since training more in a strength bias lately, I realize the importance of keeping the heart pumping and the body moving.  Big bonus, not only did CrossFit introduce me to a healthier lifestyle all together, but it also brought me to a box that I would meet, workout with, and ultimately marry the best WOD partner ever.  That’s worth it’s weight in gold any day.  And without CrossFit, I wouldn’t have been introduced to Olympic Lifting, Strongman, etc.
  5. I’ve never been stronger, and I am continuing to get stronger.  Realizing now that if I stayed in a “box” I likely wouldn’t have increased my strength beyond a certain threshold due to the inherent design of most traditional CrossFit programming.  I had to get out of the box and into a gym with a ton of strong ass mother fuckers to break that ceiling.  I witness people squating over 600lbs, deadlifting over 700lbs, benching over 400lbs and flipping 800+lb tires on a regular basis.  I enjoy the gains, and I enjoy the inspiration that these strong individuals provide.  “Surround yourself with the best to be the best” is the moto of the gym, and it’s true – surround yourself with like minded people who will motivate you to be a better version of yourself and BAM that’s what will happen.
  6. High repetitions can be a recipe for disaster.  Now, before you go and bitch at me about how you just did 100 back roll to supports and you feel amazing, I don’t care.  For me (and likely most of the population) form goes to shit and injury soon follows with high repetitions, especially when the pressure of a time component is added.  Now, if you’ve left your ego at the door, you might be alright because it won’t matter that it took 2 minutes longer to complete your 100 back roll to supports because you executed them all perfectly.  And higher reps equal greater hypertrophic response (google it) which equal great muscular gains (I didn’t say strength because some may disagree with that, although for me it’s definitely worked), but those higher reps are executed at a manageable weight with adequate rest between sets.
  7. Eating food is fucking fantastic.  I LOVE TO EAT.  I’ve done my share of Paleo challenges and have learned how to eat healthier, feel better, stay healthier (I’m WAY less sick), cook more and make better decisions regarding the FUEL that I put in my face.  Now, I am NOT Paleo, and if you are and it works for you I think that’s amazing because it really helps a lot of people.  For me, cutting out dairy caused me to get too skinny and loose strength.  Besides, ice cream is one of my favorite foods.  I added grassfed dairy back in to my diet after my longest Paleo challenge and have had no issues.  I still have a challenge when it comes to sugar, but otherwise I eat what I want, when I want, in the quantities that I feel keep me satiated and strong.  It is still a fight to be ok with the 15# weight gain and the tighter clothes because of the unfortunate conditioning in my past to fit in to a specific mold, but that’s a longer post for another time.
  8. Training the posterior chain and doing accessory work is BRILLIANT.  Prior to shoulder surgery I paid attention to the coaches without doing a ton of my own research.  Then came recovery post surgery – I learned a TON and keep learning as much as possible.  One of the biggest take-a-way’s was that I need to be pulling equal to, or double the amount, of any pushing movements.  I’ve also taken accessory movements seriously and in turn have experienced an increase in overall strength finally pulling more than 235lb in a deadlift, for example (a spot that I was stuck at for YEARS).  Anyone that takes my classes might get annoyed with the constant reminder of how important I feel pre-hab, accessory training, posterior chain activation, core engagement, etc are…but if I reach just one person so they can avoid injury or surgery then I’ve done my job and paid it forward.
  9. Mobility is necessary for increased strength and recovery.  If yoga isn’t your thing, call it something else.  But get your sweaty ass to the mat or park yourself on the carpet in front of the boob tube (that isn’t even a thing any more) and mobilize!  I like yoga, I teach yoga, therefore I encourage it.  But again, refer to #2, find a way to enjoy getting mobile because it really does help.  I rediscovered yoga after an inconsistent at best relationship with it in the past, and discovered that I really enjoy the entire practice – both the mental aspect and the physical aspect.  My strength has improved, my anxiety has decreased, my injuries are less frequent.

I’ll stop at 9.  I really wanted a round 10, but 9 is my favorite number and I think my quota of smart ass comments may be depleted for the day.  If you managed to read this whole thing, go check out Brute Yogi – this is my wife, Lisa’s, brain child.  You might even find me in there too, just sayin.

The View



My current full time position in the hospital is not as active as my most recent full time position in the ED.  It’s very easy to get in a tunnel of fitness articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc and not get outside or walk around when stuck in a small office 36 hours a week.  Today I decided to take a few pictures on my walk around the hospital campus that is shared by a level one trauma facility and a medical school.

Some things that I observed while on my 30-ish minute break:

  1. It is HOT!  Wow – the humidity of the East Coast is no joke on a 90+ degree day.  Seriously like thick soup.  However it was amazing to feel the warmth of the sun, despite the fact there was absolutely NO breeze.
  2. I walked by three people taking a smoke break.  Our entire campus is smoke free requiring anyone that chooses to smoke to walk to the neighboring areas away from campus to get their fix.  Observation – they were outside enjoying a break from their jobs just like I was, only they were quietly standing still under a tree.
  3. Quite a few people were out and about and I took notice of how many people actually acknowledged my presence.  It’s amazing to me that you can walk by someone close enough to touch them and smell their laundry detergent, but they will act as if you do not even exist.  By example, my parents taught me to make eye contact, smile and acknowledge anyone close enough to do so.  I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone waved as they drove by, or at least smiled.
  4. It was enough to change my outlook on my 12 hour day to sweat a little and move.  So, uh, just do it.

What kinds of things did you see today?  How did you move around your environment?

Memorial Day Diet and Fitness Challenge D.O.N.E. – But Not Over


#bruteyogi and I are so friggin’ cute

The challenge is officially over as of Memorial Day.  While I didn’t win, we all walked away with something – no seriously, we did!  I came in fifth with 407 out of 450 possible points – the winner finished with 418 points.  Our challenge master has been putting these little challenges together for a few years and has really fined tuned her craft.  Surprisingly the challenge master also has a decently demanding day job as a family attorney, so I don’t know how she even finds time to make these things possible. The last adventure of the challenge culminated at one of the participants home for a little afternoon pool party and awards ceremony.  Again, the challenge master did not disappoint with fun awards ceremony!  Our winner chose a charity of her choice to send the challenge purse of over $500.  She chose NPR (aka National Public Radio for those of you lame-o’s that don’t know what NPR is).  In addition to bragging rights of winning the entire challenge, her award is the tax write off at the end of the year.  #bruteyogi and I took home the Couple Champions award with that giant bottle of sparkling wine pictured above.  Basically we are a power couple and you shouldn’t fuck with us.

Our winnings!

Our winnings!

One of the participants (2nd place winner) plays a great game at Thanksgiving each year with her family where the entire family participates in something similar to a family superlatives ceremony.  As the superlative is called out everyone nominates a family member (that’s present) and the person with the most votes wins the award.  We did something similar to that as part of our challenge awards ceremony and the winners picked a prize out of the prize basket.  This blog nominated me for the most inspirational during the challenge, and I must thank all of you for reading my posts – this blog has been therapy for me and a way to hold myself accountable during the challenge.  It’s humbling to know that there are readers out there.  I believe this blog also showed my competitive side, a side that I didn’t really think was as prominent as it seems to be, so I grabbed some skittles for that award.  Mmmmmmm skittles!  That 20# DeadLift PR grabbed another treat, and my perpetual state of sobriety (I don’t really like alcohol at all) grabbed another treat.  Notice the Jack in the pile over there…the wifey gets those.

Other awards included the most likes in our private FaceBook group, no grain cheats, biggest complainer, person that never had a perfect day, best transformation, best adventure activity, surviving a birthday during the challenge (we had TWO!), and a few others I can’t remember.

The best part of the pool party was being able to sit around and talk to the people that I don’t normally see on a daily basis beyond our virtual community.  Community, there’s a lot to say about that word.  A group of misfits that may not have been together had it not been for the challenge, was together for an afternoon sharing in conversation and getting to know each other on a more intimate level beyond the virtual community that our challenge created.  We shared in a common goal and that common goal broke the ice allowing the inherent diversity that we all bring to the table to come together.  It’s a beautiful thing to find commonalities between people that on the surface can be as different as apples and oranges.  We really are all the same, just in different vessels.

After the challenge I find myself still acting as if I am preparing challenge compliant food remaining on the challenge in some aspect.  When it’s not convenient, ie we were in DC for the Mid Atlantic Crossfit Regionals this weekend, it wasn’t as much of a pain in the ass to remain compliant.  My coworker asked me if I went off the deep end after the challenge, and I can honestly say I didn’t.  I did have sushi (with some mutha fuckin’ rice), ice cream, and that fantastic Oprah chai tea latte at Starbuck spread over four days…but really I kept the indulgences to a minimum.  We worked too hard to get to this point to throw it away completely.  And I’m finding that I don’t really crave the cheats like in the past.

pile 'o sushi plates post chow fest at the conveyor belt 'o sushi in DC...YUM!

pile ‘o sushi plates post chow fest at the conveyor belt ‘o sushi in DC…YUM!

If you’ve done a diet and fitness challenge, what have you done to stay on the challenge indefinitely so that you don’t have to go back on the challenge the next time they come around?  What’s your motivation to remain clean?  Here’s the scoop – I know how I feel when I over indulge.  I know how I feel when I eat whole foods.  I also know how I feel if I don’t work out and when I do.  When I make choices that include cheetos (I LOVE those damn things), my practice will be to not have food remorse.  What will that accomplish but unhealthy self pitty (for my yogis out there does Ahimsa come to mind?)? This has been a lesson in practicing self love and acceptance for the choices that I do make – good or bad.  And, well, it was a good practice because it seems to be sticking.

To all the Teddy’s Out There

Originally posted on Sleep.Eat.Endure...Repeat:

It’s not uncommon for me to tell out-of-state friends all the wonderful things I love about California. In fact, after the winter they had back East, it’s VERY hard not to! Of course going back for the occasional snow storm is always fun, especially when you can leave and head back to perfect SoCal weather. Friends here say they can’t imagine having to “hunker down” for a hurricane, or being “snowed-in” during a blizzard. One thing they didn’t mention… were fires.

It was hot last Wednesday. But having just been in Florida where 80 degrees with high humidity left me sweating constantly.. 90 degrees of dry heat, frankly, wasn’t feeling too too bad. I got to work, only to find our entire computer system was down. AKA.. we couldn’t do a thing. The prognosis was “it could be five minutes, or it could be hours”. Finally at 10 o’clock, people…

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Day 32 – All done, almost….



It’s the final day of the challenge…almost.  The diet part of the diet and fitness challenge is complete.  It’s Friday and we have until Memorial Day (Monday) to complete three possible fitness events for an additional 30 bonus points.  While I’ve managed to grab a lot of bonus points I will not be pocketing all of these.

As promised – here are the challenge photos.  Each photo was taken on Tuesday, except for the last one which was taken today.  Ignore the awesome yellow walls and lighting – we haven’t painted yet….

Start of the challenge and one week in.

Start of the challenge and the end of the first week.

Week 2

End of Week 1

Week 3

End of Week 2

Week 4

End of Week 3

Last day!

Last day!

Week 1 on the left, today on the right.

Week 1 on the left, today on the right.

We’re in DC watching the beasts of the MidAtlantic at Regionals this weekend…hope to have some good material for you fine readers in the next few posts.

Today’s Total: 10